Anger in Kyiv after Amnesty accused it of endangering civilians
Ukraine has responded strongly to an Amnesty International report accusing it of riding cruelty with civilians in the country’s fight against Russia.
In a report, the humanitarian organization alleged that the Ukrainian military put civilians at risk by placing bases and weapons in residential areas – including schools and hospitals – where it sought to fend off the Russian invasion.
“Ukrainian tactics violated international humanitarian law by turning civilian objects into military objectives,” Amnesty International said. “The Russian strikes that followed on populated areas killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the results.
He said Amnesty “transfers responsibility from the aggressor to the victim,” accusing the NGO of “trying to grant amnesty to the terrorist state” in Russia.
And on Friday evening, the head of Amnesty International Ukraine resigned. Oksana Pokalchuk said her team was not consulted about the report.
Read more in our story here.
Putin looks to expand economic ties with Turkey as he hosts Erdogan in Sochi
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, on Friday, that Moscow is looking for an agreement to enhance economic cooperation with Ankara, while hosting his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southern city of Sochi.
The meeting took place as the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine continued into its sixth month.
“I hope that today we will be able to sign a memorandum on strengthening our economic and trade relations,” Putin said at the beginning of the meeting with Erdogan, which was broadcast on Russian television.
The Kremlin leader thanked the Turkish president for his efforts to reach an agreement between Moscow and Kiev on the delivery of grain from Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea.
Read more in our story here.
Zelensky accuses Russia of “nuclear terrorism” over attack on power plant
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Russia should take responsibility for the “terrorist act” at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, one of Europe’s largest.
The plant is occupied by the Russian army, and it has been targeted with air strikes that Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of carrying out.
“Today the occupiers have created another very dangerous situation for the whole of Europe: they twice hit the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, the largest on our continent,” Zelensky said in a video message.
“Any bombing of this site is a shameful crime, an act of terrorism. Russia must take responsibility for the fact that it created a threat to the nuclear power plant,” he continued.
A high-voltage line was damaged in the latest attack, shutting down one of the plant’s reactors.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that the situation at the Zaporizhia Power Plant was “volatile” and becoming “more and more dangerous by the day”.
When the station was captured in March, the Russian military opened fire on buildings on the site, posing the risk of a major nuclear accident.
Three more grain shipments leave Ukraine
Three other ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports on Friday and traveled through mined waters to inspect their overdue cargo, a sign that an international agreement to export grain has stalled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been slowly advancing. But there are significant obstacles to getting food to the countries that need it most.
Ships to Ireland, the United Kingdom and Turkey follow the first shipment of grain to pass through the Black Sea since the start of the war. The passage of that ship bound for Lebanon earlier this week was the first under an agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations with Russia and Ukraine.
The first ships to leave are among more than a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that were loaded months ago but stuck in ports since the Russian invasion in late February. While the return shipments have raised hopes of easing the global food crisis, many of the spare shipments are for animal feed, not for people to eat, experts say.
Dubbed the breadbasket of the world, the Black Sea region is where Ukraine and Russia are the major global suppliers of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil that millions of poor people in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia depend on for their survival.
However, the initial shipments are not expected to have a significant impact on global prices of corn, wheat and soybeans. Exports under the agreement got off to a slow and cautious start due to the danger of exploding mines floating off the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea.
While Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat to developing countries, other countries, such as the United States and Canada, have much greater production levels that can affect global wheat prices. They are at risk of dehydration.
Russia bans dozens of Canadians in new move to impose sanctions
Russia announced on Friday that it would ban entry to 62 Canadians, including political and military officials, priests and journalists, in response to recent Canadian sanctions targeting Russian figures.
This decision was made “in light of the particularly hostile nature of Prime Minister (Canadian) Justin Trudeau’s regime” and in response to actions aimed at “insulting not only the multinational and multi-religious people of Russia, but also the surrounding Orthodox believers”. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
In recent months, Canada has imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict, targeting in particular Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Among the Canadians on Friday’s list is a spokesman for the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Adrian Blanchard. Catholic priest and editor of Convivum Raymond J. de Souza; Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Commander Michael Charles Wright; As well as several advisers to Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and LGBT activist Brent Hooks.